Bizarre Author Deaths IV

My final blog post of 2013 sees the return of the popular Bizarre Author Deaths series.

Li Bai

Li Bai  (701 – 762) 

Notable works: The Hard Road to Shu, Quiet Night Thought, Waking from Drunkenness on a Spring Day

Chinese poet Li Bai was one of the two most prominent poets in China during the mid-Tang dynasty.  Acclaimed for his adherence to the poetic tradition and mastery of poetic rules, the poet was an integral part of a rich poetic heritage.  Themes that Li Bai explored in his work included friendship, the passage of time, solitude, the joys of nature and glorification of alcohol.

One of China’s greatest ever poets, Li Bai is today remembered for both embracing and improving upon long-established poetic forms.  Approximately one thousand poems are attributed to him, some of which are still studied in Chinese schools.

Legend has it that Li Bai met a bizarre end when travelling on a boat one night.  In his inebriated state, he allegedly attempted to embrace the moon, which resulted in him falling into the Yangtze River and drowning.  Though some doubt the authenticity of this tale, it has long since gone down in myth.


Percy Shelley 

Shelley(August 4th 1792 – July 8th 1822)

Notable works: Ozymandrias, Music, The Cloud, Queen Mab

The husband of Frankenstein author, Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley was an English Romantic poet.  Shelley did not achieve fame during his short lifetime, in part because publishers were reluctant to publish his work, due to his radical political and social views.  Today he is regarded as one of the greatest lyric poets of the English language.

The talented poet met his premature end when he drowned in a storm while sailing off the coast of Italy.  There has been much speculation over the exact cause of his death, with theories ranging from murder to suicide.

Events were to take a bizarre turn when Shelley’s washed-up body was cremated on the beach.  The poet’s heart refused to burn, probably due to a heart condition that had caused it to calcify.  Edward Trelawny, a friend of the deceased, removed the heart from the fire and gave it to Mary Shelley.  What happened next is much debated, with some claiming that the poet’s wife kept the crumbling remains in her desk.  The heart was later buried alongside her son, Percy Florence.

Click here to read Part 3 of the Bizarre Author Deaths Series.


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